A common show in a 1930s US Vaudeville house was Amateur Night, when local talent competed for modest prizes and an opportunity to get a start in show business. Very bad acts were jeered and booed until the manager would reach out from the wings with a long pole bearing a hook at the end and unceremoniously jerk the ham out of the limelight. I am afraid that very poor content is effectively treated with the same disrespect by the Facebook Management and while you may never see the modern day hook coming, the effect is the same. You are off centre stage perhaps never to be given a chance again. Recent changes to Facebook have exacerbated this situation. Meaning that it is no longer sufficient just to post the odd comment and hope it sticks. To get attention and ultimately success you will need to post good quality content that passes the Facebook hook challenge!
The main changes that I reported on in October 2011 are that:
1) Homepages have a ticker which looks a bit like a Twitter feed. The moment someone clicks “Like”, a notice will appear in their friends’ tickers. If someone shares your content, rather than being passively presented, or indeed hidden, on their Wall, it will be highlighted in a “Recent Activity” box in their Timeline profile.
2) Facebook has combined your previous two choices for viewing posts in your news feed. So what was your choice between, “Top Stories” and “Most Recent” has been condensed by Facebook using the so called EdgeRank algorithm. Facebook is now deciding for us what is most important based on its understanding of what pages we most visit, how popular these pages are- and how recent the post is. Or put this another way, if Facebook does not rate your content it will get the hook.
You would hope that subscribers this would see this for what it is; a scene from the novel, “1984” and understand the hidden but very direct influence of a Big Brother figure at Facebook. But the truth is, that like the majority of citizens of “1984”, most users simply do not know or care. Facebook thinks it is doing its customers a favour by sorting through the dross and presenting only the best, most popular and interesting posts. And judging by the growth of Facebook, consumers think so too.
But the real reason that Facebook has made these changes is to better appeal to potential advertisers. Just like a daily newspaper or monthly glossy dagazine, the more interesting the surrounding content, the more engaged its subscribers, the more valuable the platform is to advertisers. Facebook can’t sell poor content as a draw to advertisers.
What does all this mean for the average small business user trying to get noticed on Facebook? It means that, now more than ever, any content you publish has to be designed and presented to deliver maximum value to your chosen target audience. Classic Marketing! It is not enough to simply post rubbish and hope that it will arrive at the top of a Facebook users timeline- even if they have previously “Liked” you.
Instead, you now need to plan and consider the content you post, when to post it for maximum effect and how often to post. In the recent past, it has been enough to post say daily, but now, if you want the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm to notice your post, it had better be good and it had better be current. Meaning posted within the last three hours in some cases. By good of course, we mean, valuable, interesting and perhaps funny. And so much the better if it is a photo or video format.
Once you post on Facebook, your content has entered into gladiatorial combat for ratings. A fight to obscurity or glory! In some respects, this means that we are coming full circle. Just a few years ago it was perfectly acceptable for business owners to publish any old dross – and it would still get “Likes” as everyone felt their way in this new medium. The playing field was level for small business owners. But now Facebook will only highlight the best. So it may be time to consider having at least some of your social media posts written professionally by a creative third party agency or copy writer to a tight brief designed to maximise sales.
So if you are a business owner trying to make headway in social media, don’t blame Facebook for giving your content the hook. And don’t blame the public either. Blame yourself- or perhaps the copy writer you should have hired!